Disruption in the Eye of the Beholder

April 20, 2016 § Leave a comment

By Darrell Schrag

You don’t have to go very far in the business world these days without running across the concept of disruptors. As a company if you are not actively seeking ways to disrupt your industry you will be passed up quickly, so they say. And even more challenging is when the disruptor comes out of the blue from a company that you didn’t consider a competitor. The latest example of this that I just read about is how retailer Overstock.com is actively pursuing trading technologies based on Blockchain. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-17/overstock-wins-sec-s-nod-to-upend-how-companies-issue-shares.t0

Who in the financial services industry would have seen a retailer completely shaking up the status quo from out of the blue. Companies like this are making the news and are vaulting ahead of their industry if not new industries. We at IBM lead the Bluemix story with just this discussion. Bluemix provides that agile development platform that allows your developers to think of and deliver new solutions quickly.

But there is another type of disruption that must be dealt with before going to market with new ideas. That is the need to disrupt the status quo within the IT department. I have had numerous conversations with customers that understand this concept of disruption but at the same time are knee deep in the molasses of their existing development processes. They look around the room seeking a brave soul willing to stick their neck out to suggest a drastic change to the way they do development. Disrupting their industry requires disrupting their IT department.

Those organizations that are blazing this disruptive trail are the ones driven by a line-of-business leader that demands this disruptive ability from its IT leaders. Rare is the IT leader that is out in front of this by pursuing something like Bluemix ahead of the demands of the business leaders, but it does happen. Being in the IT business I usually spend much more time on the IT side of a customer’s house. But helping those IT leaders tie what they do back to the business drivers that keep the CEO up at night can help the success rate. The best part of my job is to get opportunities to challenge corporate leaders to be disruptive, both in their industry and within their development walls.

The speed of innovation is increasing every day. And this survival-of-the-fittest disruptive behavior will only get more and more commonplace. It is an exciting time to be in IT.

Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson for Diabetes

March 25, 2016 § Leave a comment

By Russell Hargraves, Karolyn A. Schalk, Sumit Patel, Matthew Grosso and Joseph D. Mostowy

With the Global Diabetes Care Market estimated to reach $122 Billion by 2022, Cognitive computing, Cloud technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT) are poised to enable the Diabetic patient population to achieve a better quality of life and outcomes by delivering personalized nutritional information.

As a society we are facing significant health problems. The United States ranks ninth in life expectancy among nations in the developed world. We have a workforce plagued with absenteeism and reduced productivity because of chronic health problems. 78 percent of healthcare expenditures are for the treatment of chronic diseases. (http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/28/1/64.full) Our diets are a key contributing factor in these issues, in part do to a lack of focus and balance of nutrients. Cognitive computing, Cloud technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT) are beginning to influence our daily lives, diets, health and wellness. With the emergence of Cognitive personalized services entering the global marketplace like (Diet-as-a-Service) these programs are beginning to enable, educate, and empower employees, patients, customers, family, and individuals to achieve a sustainable optimized diet based on the individuals person health profile, wellness goals and genetic makeup. Today, there are many medical conditions which require patients to be on special diets. With more than 29 million people in the United States having diabetes, one in four people with diabetes doesn’t know he or she has it. Another 86 million adults – more than one in three U.S. adults – have prediabetes. Presenting an opportunity for the emerging cognitive culture to embrace Cognitive Health and Wellness services delivering personalized nutritional information for Diabetics and other chronic diseases. In many cases, not following a diet prescribed for a medical condition can lead to a severe health crisis. Cognitive enabled Health and Wellness services can offer everyone personalized nutritional recommendations based on their health history, personal goals and genetics. These services provide evidence-based diet information and advise so people can improve their overall eating patterns including the complete combination of foods and drinks in their new Cognitive Life diet. We have tremendous opportunity as a culture to help everyone globally live a better life.

Today, IBM Chef Watson with Bon Appetit is currently pioneering a new era of cooking that helps Chefs discover and create original, totally unique recipes with help of flavor compound algorithms. The opportunity to align this work with the dietary needs of patients and health conscious consumers worldwide presents some exciting possibilities. (http://www.bonappetit.com/entertaining-style/trends-news/article/how-ibm-chef-watson-works)

cognitive build

With “Diabetes affecting 382 million people worldwide, and that number expected to grow to 592 million by 2035 – we have a tremendous challenge and opportunity in front of us as a culture. (https://www.uea.ac.uk/about/-/global-economic-impact-of-diabetes-revealed-in-new-study)

With Cognitive computing, Cloud technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT) our generation has a unique opportunity to improve healthcare outcomes and global quality of life for patients and consumers worldwide.

InterConnect 2016

February 11, 2016 § Leave a comment



Sunday, February 21

Monday, February 22

Tuesday, February 23

  • Medical Minecraft (Lab) @ 10:00am, Session # TWT-7369 / MGM Grand-Room 302
    • Presenter: Srinivas Cheemalapati, IBM Cloud Advisor
  • Create a Scanning Application for Smartphones that Provides Contextual Information on Consumer Goods @ 12:00pm, Session # CCD-6874  /  EXPO – dev@
    • Presenter: Patrick Sard, IBM Cloud Advisor
  • Transforming for Rapid Innovation: The Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Story (Inner Circle)@ 2:30pm, Session # CLD-6371  /  Oceanside D 2
    • Presenters: Guy Sharon & Alastair Prior, IBM Cloud Advisors; Ash Austin, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, Client
  • Unlock the Cloud: A Disruptive Conversation about The Future  @ 2:30pm, Session # CSD-7459  /  The ‘Park’ at Mandalay Bay
    • Host: Ray Wang, Principal Analyst, Founder, and Chairman, Constellation Research @rwang0
    • Bill Clerico, Cloud Solution Architect, IBM Cloud Advisor @bclerico
    • Tim M. Crawford, CIO Strategic Advisor, Avoa @tcrawford
    • Giovanni Pacifici, VP Cloud Platform and Services, IBM Research @theothergio
    • Stormy Peters, VP of Technical Evangelism, Cloud Foundry @storming

Wednesday, February 24

Thursday, February 25

Addressing Climate Change with the Cloud

February 9, 2016 § Leave a comment

Across the world the effects of pollution and climate change are impacting the way people live. From increased traffic to large-scale industrial manufacturing, the tools that have enabled economic growth now create health hazards for the citizens they benefit. Traditionally, combating these harmful elements has required reactive efforts to decrease further pollution by either limiting or quantifying the impact of human actions on air quality. While this has helped the world understand the scope of pollution and its impact on climate change, proactive action has been limited by siloed data compiled based on limited variables and historical patterns. This does not include insights from unstructured data, which makes up 80% of the world’s data. Instead, what if real time analysis of sensors, traffic cameras, weather imaging, and even satellite photography was used to cognitively understand pollution and help users make better decisions?

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Mapping the Ultimate Hybrid Cloud

February 2, 2016 § 3 Comments

Too often, the journey to the cloud is viewed as a purely technical challenge. The reality, however, proves to be different. Cloud technology capabilities must match the organization’s knowledge and processes to be able to leverage them to their full potential, and vice versa. Especially the areas of compliance, security, and management and control present a much broader challenge than just choosing and rolling out a technology solution. Also, a move to the cloud is never the goal in itself: always start with defining what your business drivers are to pinpoint what it is that you want to achieve. Everyone wants to do things cheaper and faster, but exactly how much and to what extent is this to be achieved without compromising quality?

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OUTTHINK: Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas

January 13, 2016 § Leave a comment


Happy 2016! We started off the year with several exciting cognitive announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Based on these, it’s going to be an exciting year as we move forward with becoming a cognitive solutions and cloud platform company. Our continuing efforts to build out the global cloud platform offering customers the most flexibility, scalability and reliability for their Public, Private, Hybrid and Hybrid IT needs is impressive. The cognitive solutions unveiled at CES provide a glimpse into the future of health and fitness, precision medicine, prevention & safety awareness, connected appliances, and finally the vast potential for cognitively powered emotional android’s to provide a variety of personalized services. I have included some of the highlights for your review:


Pathway Genomics and IBM today unveiled at the Digital Health Summit at CES 2016 the closed-alpha release of Pathway Genomics OME™ app, powered by Watson. The Pathway Genomics OME app merges cognitive computing and deep learning with precision medicine and genetics to enable Pathway Genomics to provide consumers with personalized wellness information. This alpha version of the app incorporates information from Pathway’s “FIT” Test — a wellness-based diet, exercise, and metabolism report compiled with information from the users unique genetic traits, as well as their health habits, data from GPS and wearable health monitors in addition to information from the users Apple HealthKit. Future versions of Pathway’s OME will enable users to opt-in to include electronic health records, insurance information, and additional datasets that will enable OME to provide precise and actionable wellness recommendations. https://www.pathway.com/debut-1st-genomic-wellness-app-ome/


IBM and Under Armour are teaming up to show data from IBM Watson in Under Armour’s core health and fitness app, UA Record. At first this might sound like your standard “partnership” or collaboration to beef up content within an app, but Watson’s entrance into fitness — and its marriage of fitness data with other data — is significant. Under Armour’s new UA Record app combined with a Cognitive Coaching System applies machine learning to digital health and fitness. A future version of the UA Record app powered by IBM Watson could be the first system to assess and combine a variety of factors that affect health and fitness programs, including: personal, physiological and behavioral data, nutrition, expert training knowledge, and environmental factors. These insights will initially be available within UA Record available now on the App Store.


Medtronic and IBM unveiled a research prototype concept for a first-of-its-kind cognitive app that can help to detect critical patterns and trends for people with diabetes to making daily management of diabetes simpler. In other words the reams of data collected by Medtronic’s wearable devices – the insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors – will be put to work by Watson’s data analytics that can crunch innumerable data points to glean important insignts.  http://www.mddionline.com/blog/devicetalk/what-was-medtronic-ceo-doing-ces


Softbank Robotics and IBM announced plans to take their partnership on a Watson-powered robot global. Through their joint work, Softbank has infused Watson into their “empathetic” robot Pepper, enabling it to understand and answer questions in real time, opening up new possibilities for the use of robotics in business scenarios such as banking, retail and hospitality.


Whirlpool and IBM Collaborate on Cognitive Solutions for Connected Appliances. Whirlpool Corporation, the world’s leading manufacturer of major home appliances, and IBM today announced a new collaboration to connect Whirlpool connected home appliances with IBM Watson services, including cognitive analytics, to provide more personalized services to consumers. http://www.whirlpoolcorp.com/whirlpool-corporation-ibm-collaborate-on-cognitive-solutions-for-connected-appliances/

Cost Savings of Cloud in Retail

November 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

I recently came across an article that contained five predictions around the sale of televisions from Consumer Reports for Black Friday: (http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/lcdtvs/5-predictions-for-black-friday-2015). While reading these predictions, a few caught my interest (especially price matching and pricing transparency). These predictions underline one of the driving forces in retail – how do retailers improve their margins and still remain competitive?   While we commonly talk a lot about cloud being the platform to bring innovative capabilities to touch new clients and keep existing clients in retail, I’d like to focus on another benefit related to the cost savings that cloud can bring to retailers.

Let’s look at two dimensions related to cost: initial cost (to setup) and the ongoing costs or workloads. Most people understand that the initial costs should be lower leveraging cloud solution (e.g. a public cloud from IBM, Amazon, or Microsoft) versus investing in infrastructure in a traditional data center.   However, many consider the ongoing costs for cloud to be more expensive. I’d like to explore this angle for a moment.

Looking at the traditional data center, there are four areas to explore related to ongoing costs and how they might change with cloud:

  • Peak traffic and variability
  • Cost of power/electricity usage
  • Infrastructure labor costs
  • Homogeneity vs. heterogeneity


Almost all retailers face the challenge around how to best handle peak traffic or huge variations in traffic. Whether it is black Friday, Valentine’s day, Mother’s day, or a movie lets out, many retailers have to plan how to handle these variations in traffic. Many organizations address this challenge by using the “high-water mark” principle. With this principle, you allocate the maximum computing capacity to deal with the maximum traffic and make this available all year long.   With this approach, there are significant costs associated with keeping the infrastructure available whether it is being used or not. Being able to scale up capacity during these peak times and scale down afterwards is a classic cloud usage scenario that does result in reduced costs.

The cost of power is a metric we sometimes forget. Electricity usage is rising to the point where it is becoming the largest element of TCO for most data centers. It was estimated in 2013 that over 10% of the world’s electricity is consumed by IT. (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/08/16/it_electricity_use_worse_than_you_thought/). Many organizations use the PUE metric (power usage effectiveness) as a way to measure power efficiency in data centers. Unfortunately, much of the infrastructure in today’s data centers are obsolete, outdated, or unused and so power usage effectiveness tends to be much lower in traditionally owned data centers. Moving to a cloud based environment removes the burden of you having to measure PUEs, reduce your electricity consumption, and have a positive impact in the environment.

Have you looked at the infrastructure labor costs in your organization? I recently had the opportunity to look at a few cloud based data centers. One thing that impressed me was how few people you see. In the traditional data center, you typically see around 150 servers being managed by a single administrator. In a cloud based data center, the ratio changes to around 1000 servers per administrator. Automation is clearly a critical factor in optimizing labor and work and using your human resources for other activities.

A famous quote about the Model T from Henry Ford was that “any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants, so long as it is black.” Why did he say this? The Model T only came in black because the production line would slow down and have a negative impact on efficiency. There are similarities in cloud. With cloud, homogeneity has an impact in reducing cost. Think about the amount of costs expended because of differences in environments, platforms, and applications that run in your data center. Cloud offers great efficiency due to standardization, which will translate into cost savings. One will need to do the work to move these workloads so they can be executed on common platforms and detailed workload assessments can help.

My final thought struck me when I was in a shopping mall last week. I was making a purchase at a store that was using old point of sale devices. With retailers that have physical stores scattered across many locations, the associated costs for managing the IT infrastructure in each store represents an opportunity to leverage cloud to reduce costs as well as provide buyers a more delightful client experience.